Go Golfing: Pine Cliffs, Algarve
If you’re planning on taking the family away this year with the hope of sneaking in a few holes yourself, this place could well be the answer to your prayers. At just 30 minutes from Faro airport, it’s a breeze to get to, so no “are we nearly there yet” moments.
The resort has such a wide range of activities that the kids may just be too busy having fun to notice that it’s also a stone’s throw from some of the best golf courses on the Algarve, including San Lorenzo and a host of others (and, shhh, can offer preferential green fees to residents).
At 72 hectares, compact and bijoux it isn’t, but for a large resort it has bags of style. Floodlit paths and perfectly manicured gardens link several different accommodation options, each with its own character. The 215-room Sheraton Algarve is the main hub of the resort and is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment — once complete it should set the standard for smart hotel design in the region with large, airy rooms, indulgent bathrooms, sophisticated, pared-back décor and spacious terraces.
For a home-away-from-home stay at Pine Cliffs Residence, a mini-village of three-storey apartment blocks made up of two and three-bedroom suites with views over the golf course, smart enough to impress but relaxed and comfy enough to let the kids have free reign.
They also come with a small kitchen and laundry room, invaluable if you’re staying with a baby or toddler. Or push the boat out and book into the beautiful Pine Cliffs Terraces, a collection of super-glam contemporary townhouses.
The sign of a good family resort is when your needs are anticipated before you’ve even thought to ask, and that is true here. Arrive in any of the 12 restaurants and high chairs are immediately whisked out, children’s menus magically appear and warm staff are ready with a smile and a wink for the little ones.
And because there are so many families here, kids can be both seen and heard with no disapproving stares from neighbouring tables. That said, during our stay kids tended to be beautifully ehaved, and there are areas of the resort that remain child-free so couples or adult groups are made equally welcome.
Kids will want to head straight to Porto Pirata, the impressive children’s village where you can play mini-golf, swim in the kids-only pool, race go-karts or go crazy on the bouncy castle — or you can drop the little ones off with the twinkly staff at the kids club for a day or half-day while you do as much or as little as you like. The club is housed in two giant fun filled pirate ships and they take babies as young as six months up to eight-year olds, but be warned, you’ll find they might not want to leave.
The list of activities doesn’t stop here though and for children and adults alike there’s an excellent Annabel Croft Tennis Academy, numerous swimming pools, a health club, treatment centre, bikes to hire, watersports, botanic walks and a stunning beach with private access via a glass lift and a scenic path through russet-hued cliffs.
But let’s not forget the golf. Pine Cliffs was recently named Portugal’s Best Golf Hotel at the World Golf Awards and although the course here is only nine holes, it is no afterthought and forms the backdrop to much of the resort.
The clifftop course winds through scented pine groves before emerging to stunning views of the Atlantic coastline and the iconic signature hole, the par-3 sixth, “Devil’s Parlour”, with a heart-stopping 198m carry over cliffs to a devilishly undulating green.
There’s also a well equipped academy with driving range, putting green and teaching facility with swing analysis cameras. This is an exciting year for Pine Cliffs with an extensive (but discreet) refurbishment and building project under way.
July will see the opening of the resort’s new Ocean Suites, a stunning collection of two and three-bedroom suites with sleek design and unsurpassed levels of luxury. Some people love their stay here so much, they buy a place.